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Belgium: The Vinyl Frontier

A glimpse of Glints

In the studio, I really just want to do as I please. It needs to be good, to feel good.

Interview Diederik Decroix
Photographs Tina herbots

About halfway through the interview, Jan Maarschalk Lemmens has a bit of an epiphany. “Isn’t it crazy we’ve made it this far?” Jan Maarschalk Lemmens, whom we will just call Jan as two surnames really are too much to type, finished his Dutch-English studies and moved on to Schrijven at the RITS institute in 2015. But who wants to be stuck in school when music is what makes your heart race?

Two years after closing the books, Burgundy, Glints’ second EP, is out on PIAS and the band is signed by Live Nation. You’d best put your money on this: Glints is going to make it big. In fact, they started out big. At one of their first concerts, over at Bonnefooi in Brussels, the band attracted such a crowd that the guys from AB, just across the street, got curious and went to take a look. Meanwhile, they’ve been on the AB stage six times, no less, and were artist in residence in the kingdom’s most renown music temple. Just to say we’re not the only ones to believe there’s some diamond-in-the-rough potential there.

Even though Glints revolves around Jan as a front man, he gladly teams up with of studio master Mathias Bervoets, whose brains he likes to pick. Jan: “We spend a lot of time in the studio, where I run every idea by him. He’s a highly talented guitar player, which is a blessing to have around. The rest of the band only comes into the picture once the songs are almost finished, meaning Glints in the studio and Glints on stage are quite different entities.”

It’s always a challenge to translate the studio songs into live performances. Live, we sometimes play tracks that didn’t make either EP, because they just work better on stage. It works the other way around, too. In the studio, I really just want to do as I please. It needs to be good, to feel good.

Jan: “Live, the band consists of myself, Mathias Bervoets, Ferre Marnef and Tim Caramin. I was boasting Bervoets’ guitar talents earlier, but the others amaze me just as well. Ferre had been my friend since we were children and was part of Soldier’s Heart, who won the Nieuwe Lichting contest in 2013. Tim played with New Rising Sun. In the beginning, each gig was a quest, we needed to feel the energy between us grow.” Today, Glints has a Most Promising Artist Award on their mantel piece, which they scored at the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards two years ago. It looks like they’re keeping that promise. 

Children not allowed.

Catalyst and Egotism, two songs that were already released, did not fail to impress us. We’d categorise Glints’ music as hip hop, but then we’d probably be a bunch of narrow-minded arses. Instead, well just say these guys are on a quest to find the right sound and they’ve set the bar pretty damn high.

Jan: “I don’t think there’s a label that fits us perfectly. That makes things easy and hard at the same time, placing us somewhere on the frayed outskirts of mainstream. People who dig deeper and try to get to know the music and lyrics will find there’s more than meets the eye. However, I do think my songs are accessible enough to speak to a larger audience. That’s why I’ve set my sights on crossing this country’s borders. We already have bookers abroad, so we’re not leaving things to chance.”

Jan: “The parental advisory label we are obliged to stick on our record is kind of funny. You don’t really expect it on a sleeve like ours, but I think that just makes it more interesting. The lyrics are very important to me. Over the past few years, I’ve written as least as many texts as I’ve written songs. It’s not that there’s a certain message there, I just want people to have more to discover than merely our sound. That way, there’s a lot of room left for interpretation.”

Top cast

Even before the album hits the shelves, Glints is already collecting compliments, thanks to De Morgen, who featured the Burgundy cover in their Look Hoes Talking series. The design, just as the one of the first EP, was made by painter and graphic designer Iljen Put. Along with Sammy Slabbinck, Put is ubiquitous in the realm of recent Belgian releases. Bazart, Tsar B and Whispering Sons albums all bear his signature, as does Hypopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, Hypchristmustreefuzz debut.

Put’s work wouldn’t look out of place at the Visual Vinyl exhibition, which is on show in Sint-Niklaas as we speak, celebrating the 50th birthday of Warhol’s banana — no, not that one, the one he made for The Velvet Underground & Nico. The exhibition hosts an overview of fifty years of cover art, displaying over hundred beauties from Jan Van Toorn’s collection, as well as some hidden pearls owned by Belgian private collectors.

Jan and Iljen Put have been friends for a long time. Jan: “I’ve admired Iljen’s work for as long as I can remember. It seems unthinkable that anyone else would design a sleeve for Glints. Iljen is a real craftsman. He doesn’t do computers, yet he elevates the result to a whole new level.” Not that that level has ever been below par, though. Jergan Callebaut from VUURWERK was put in charge of knob-turning at the studio, while Justin Gerrish, the American who also had a hand in D'Angelo's Black Messiah, was appointed to mix the final result. Quite a fine list and an even finer end result, which we’ll gladly grant a shiny eight-point score. 

Another of these pure-hearted craftsmen working with Glints is Rik Chaubet, responsible for the 𝕸𝖆𝕶𝖊𝖘𝖍𝖎𝖋𝖙 𝕴𝖉𝖔𝖑 video. The drawings you’ll see fluttering by on screen have been scratched right into the film, proving once again Glints like to explore new horizons in everything they touch. Needless to say these fellows should be on your horizon as well, most definitely since the return of the sun announces the beginning of the festival season. See you frontstage!